ROOSEVELT The aunt of a 14-year-old girl who ran over and killed a toddler in May was sentenced to prison Thursday on three counts.
Nicole Annette Rodrigues was ordered to serve one year in prison for class A misdemeanor negligent homicide in the death of 22-month-old Franchesca Isabel Montes and 90 days in jail for allowing an unlicensed driver to drive. Rodrigues had originally been charged with second-degree felony manslaughter for her role in Montes' death, but she pleaded guilty to reduced charges in July.
According to Roosevelt police, Rodrigues allowed her 14-year-old niece behind the wheel of a sport utility vehicle on May 15. The girl, with Rodrigues in the passenger seat, ran over Montes as she pulled forward out of the driveway of the toddler's Roosevelt home.
Police and prosecutors say Rodrigues left her niece at the scene with the dying toddler and fled in the SUV.
The girl who ran over Montes was sentenced in July to complete a residential treatment program at an Iowa youth detention facility, serve probation and perform community service. Prosecutors also reduced the manslaughter charge in that case to a misdemeanor negligent homicide count.
Court records show that the girl had a history of 10 offenses arising from 10 incidents since 2007, including charges of aggravated assault with a weapon, harassment, destruction of property and making threats. She had served a total of 154 days in detention at the time she was sentenced.
Rodrigues had custody of her niece when Montes was killed because the teen's mother is in prison.
In addition to sentencing Rodrigues in the negligent homicide case, 8th District Court Judge A. Lynn Payne ordered the 33-year-old to serve zero to five years in prison for an unrelated felony drug possession charge.
Payne also sentenced Rodrigues to one year in prison for class A misdemeanor joyriding and six months in jail for making terroristic threats, a class B misdemeanor; charges Rodrigues pleaded guilty to on Thursday. Roosevelt police say a drunken Rodrigues took a friend's work truck Tuesday night and then made threats to kill the arresting officer and an emergency dispatcher.
The sentences in all three cases will run concurrently.
Duchesne County Attorney Stephen Foote said a pre-sentence investigation found that Rodrigues had spent her days drinking alcohol and sleeping in the wake of Montes' death.
"This is a great loss that can't be undone," Payne told Rodrigues, who strained against her handcuffs to dab tears from her eyes throughout the hearing.
"I think you've gone into depression over this," Payne said, adding that if Rodrigues takes advantage of the substance-abuse treatment programs at the prison "that perhaps will be the only good thing that can come of this."At Payne's prompting, Rodrigues turned to face the family that was adopting Montes at the time of her death and said, "I'm just so sorry." She mouthed the words one more time at the end of the hearing before being led from the courtroom to a holding cell.
Contributing: Ben Winslow